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NFL Launches 'Salute to Service' Campaign to Benefit Military Support Organizations

Thursday, November 15, 2012

By Joseph Andrew Lee 

If you are an NFL fan, you may have noticed a running theme through the first two weeks of November. Camouflage footballs, military flyovers and the vivid colors of American patriotism are on display both on and off the field.

In honor of Veterans Day, all 32 NFL teams designated one home game this month to honor military men and women for their service and sacrifice.

During these games, teams are displaying a number of branded elements on the sidelines and in the end zones for this "Salute to Service" campaign. These elements include goalpost wraps, pylons with camouflage ribbon decals, wall banners and the words “Salute to Service” written in the back of the end zone.

Most of these items are then auctioned off at to raise money for three military charities: the USO, the Pat Tillman Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. In addition, for every point scored during the NFL's 32 “Salute to Service” games, the league will donate $100 to each of its nonprofit partners.

The “Salute to Service” campaign aligns with the NFL's long history of supporting America's armed services, including a partnership of more than 45 years with the USO, highlighted by visits to troops overseas and to military hospitals nationwide.

On Veterans Day, the Baltimore Ravens held their “Salute to Service” game against the Oakland Raiders. Marine Corps Sergeant Emily Thompson-Schelberg of Towson, Md., was recognized before the game as the 2012 NFL-Tillman Military Scholar. Thompson-Schelberg is pursuing a master’s degree at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in Baltimore. Maryland National Guard members stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, participated in the pre-game ceremony via live feed.

Ravens coach and USO tour veteran John Harbaugh was particularly moved by the ceremony and the “Salute to Service” campaign.

“What the NFL and teams around the league are doing right now by recognizing servicemen and women like Emily is just spectacular,” Harbaugh said. “We do some great things in the National Football League, but to me the ‘Salute to Service’ games are by far the most meaningful because the support goes to the right organizations.

“The USO is one of these great organizations. What they do for troops is first class all the way. I feel like America is in good hands as long as these very special people keep making very special sacrifices to keep sane those who keep us safe.”

The USO will use funds raised from “Salute to Service” to support Operation Enduring Care, the USO's campaign to support wounded, ill and injured troops and their families and caregivers throughout the rehabilitation process. The centerpieces of Operation Enduring Care are two new USO Warrior and Family Care Centers at Fort Belvoir in Virginia and at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland.

To learn more about the NFL “Salute to Service” campaign or to donate, visit 

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Donate today to support our troops this Veterans Day during the USO’s "Grant a Wish for Our Heroes" campaign. 

Federal employees can help the USO fulfill its mission to support troops and their families though the 2012 Combined Federal Campaign. Please designate #11381. 

Photo caption: Troops from Kandahar, Afghanistan, pass along their best wishes via the M&T Bank Stadium scoreboard. (Photo credit: Phil Hoffmann) 

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